In an unprecedented move, the European Union voted in September to strip Hungary of its voting rights for allegedly undercutting democracy. Although the vote was largely symbolic, it showed the wide gulf between the western European politicians in Brussels and the fiercely independent government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Hungary has been treated like a pariah in the Western media over its position on open borders, but Hungary’s leaders are smart enough to know that their national values will never please the global Left.
In New York, I interviewed Hungary’s defiant foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, who insists Hungary will remain a sovereign Christian nation which rejects any foreign interference, especially when it comes to its borders and migrants from the Muslim world.
Dale Hurd, CBN News: Mr. Foreign Minister, what is Hungary’s response to the EU decision to punish Hungary?
Péter Szijjártó, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Well, basically it’s a revenge, what the European Parliament has decided upon. European Parliament has a majority of (members) who are pro-migration, absolutely pro-migration. And since the Hungarian government has proven in the last three and a half years that migration is a negative phenomenon, migration is dangerous and migration can and must be stopped, this annoys the majority of the members of the European Parliament, this annoys the bureaucrats in Brussels, this annoys the European Commission. So, they made a revenge on Hungary.
Illegal migration is the most serious challenge the European Union has ever had to face since its foundation. Illegal migration is an absolutely dangerous phenomenon. Look at Europe: One and a half million people could enter the territory of the European Union in an absolutely uncontrolled way. No one knew who they were. And since the illegal migration has started, 33 major terrorist attacks have been committed on the territory of the European Union by persons with the migratory background. We are fed up with the politically correct and hypocritical approach of the European Union. We are fed up with those politicians who say that terrorism is part of metropolitan life. No, it’s not. We have to fight against terrorism and we have to tackle the root causes of terrorism, and one of the root causes of terrorism is the illegal migration.
Hurd: How can Hungary continue in an organization where the gap between these two views is so wide?
Szijjártó: Hungary is interested in a strong European Union. But in order to get there we have a lot of debates. The bad news is that some of our Western European friends question our right to have a debate. And we don’t agree with those ones who represent a kind of a “federalistic” approach, which suggests that a United States of Europe should be established.
Our position is different. We want a strong European Union based on strong member states. We don’t like the approach which is represented by some forces in Europe which would like to step European Union into a post-national, post-Christian period. We want a European Union which cares about the national identity, where the countries and the nations are proud of their heritage, about their identity, about their history. So, the nihilism, the valueless approach which is there, is simply unacceptable for us. If Europe is not going to find the way back to the Christian roots and Christian heritage, then Europe will not be strong again. That’s our vision.
Hurd: Explain to Americans how Hungary’s history informs and influences its immigration policy today.
Szijjártó: Well, you know, Hungarian people are freedom fighters. We had to fight for our freedom throughout our history many times – in the 1956 revolution when we fought against the communists, or we can remember from the history books a long period of time when the (Ottoman Turks) have occupied Hungary. So, we had to fight for freedom so many times in our history that we really, really respect, and we really can value freedom and liberty.
So, that’s why we will always stick to preserve our rights to make a decision, on our own, who we allow to come to the territory of Hungary, who we do not allow to do so. We will never give up our right to make a decision between who we would like to live together within our country. We will never give up our right to stick to our culture and heritage.
We have been a Christian country for a millennium. Why should we give it up? Who is the one who can judge, over judge the Hungarian history and the view of the Hungarian people?
Hurd: The Western media makes it appear that you are building a dictatorship.
Szijjártó: You have to counter with the fact that the Western media, the “mainstream media” hates what we are doing because this is the same way they behaved during the election campaign here in the United States. You know, I think it was a big shock for mainstream media both in US and in Europe to understand that it is not them to pick the president of the United States. It is the American people who made the vote.
And in Hungary it was not the NGOs funded by Soros. It was not the European Commission, it was not the mainstream liberal Western media, but the Hungarian people who made the decision about the future of the country, and that must be respected. But these representatives of media are so frustrated with that, that people don’t think the same way that they do, that they commit any kind of actions against governments which are not representing the same “mainstream” line that they do.
Hurd: You must feel like you have an ally in President Trump.
Szijjártó: I always try to avoid commenting on internal issues of other countries. But if you ask me, I think democracy has won when President Trump turned out to be the winner because there are so many, so much influence against him; we have seen in the mainstream media and pollsters and political researchers, everybody, and the American people came out and voted in favor of him.
Look, from Hungarian perspective, I can tell you that (Trump’s) administration is much more favorable compared to the former one.
Under President Obama’s Democrat administration, there were direct and open attempts to interfere into our domestic issues, open attempts to throw out the government, open attempts to create challenges and problems. Our relationship during the Democrat administration was extremely poor. And now, it’s picking up. It’s much better. We understand we share the same kind of issues when it comes to border protection, when it comes to migration, when it comes to preserving the Christian values and it’s good to know.
Hurd: I want to talk to you about the importance of Christianity to Hungary. First though, about immigrants. Why does it matter if an immigrant who wants to enter Hungary is a Christian or a Muslim?
Szijjártó: You know, we have this debate in Europe whether multiculturalism is by definition better than a homogeneous country, and Hungarians had a very clear say on that. We want to keep Hungary as a Hungarian country; we want to keep Hungary as a Christian country, according to the roots and heritage.
And look at the western part of Europe. Parallel societies have been created, which is always a source for tensions, for violence, for security risks, and this has been going on in the western part of Europe.
Come on, how it is possible that in Europe, in the western part of Europe, decisions are about to remove the symbols of Christian heritage or Christian faith from public areas? We (Hungarians) don’t want that. I mean, we want to preserve our heritage, our culture.
We are a very family-oriented nation. You know, even in the Constitution we speak very clearly that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. We have received enormous attacks on that, saying that we are retrograde, that we don’t understand modern developments, but we stick to it. We stick to the traditional definition of a family and the traditional definition of marriage.
Hurd: And you care about persecuted Christians in other countries. Tell us about this.
Szijjártó: You know, we have to understand that Christianity became the most persecuted religion, and that we have to stand up for the rights of the Christian communities all over the world. We have established a separate state secretariat in our government which only has one duty: to monitor the situation and the destiny of the Christian communities all around the world. And if any of them is in need, if any of them is under attack then let’s help immediately. So, very recently, we have spent 15 million euros on the reconstruction programs in the Middle East to reconstruct houses of Christian families who had to leave from their homes to reconstruct and rebuild churches. Now we are rebuilding 40 Christian churches in Lebanon, for example. So this is the policy we have to follow.